St Vincent de Paul’s History of Work with Migrants and Refugees Presentation given to the Fourth National Conference on the Pastoral Care of Migrant and Refugees hosted by the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office in Sydney on 1st October, 2014.

By Rik Sutherland National Policy Advisor St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia

The Fourth National Conference on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees was held in Sydney from 1 to 3 October 2014. The Towards a Better World Conference was organised by the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) and the speakers’ program included the director of ACMRO, Fr Maurizio Pettena CS, the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, and medical doctor and cultural activist Dr Jamal Rifi, among others. The following is an edited extract from the address the St Vincent de Paul Society’s national research officer, Rik Sutherland, gave to the Conference on 1 October 2014.

The St Vincent de Paul Society’s mission is to provide help for those who are marginalised by structures of exclusion and injustice, and our programs assist around 2.5 million Australians each year. These include people living with mental illness, people who are homeless and insecurely housed, and people experiencing poverty

For the last decade and up to today, the St Vincent de Paul Society has continued to run a wide range of programs for refugees, including tutoring, settlement assistance of all varieties, material aid, housing, white goods, legal assistance, visits to detention centres, and much more. And at the national level, we have continued our advocacy for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers — the last edition of our magazine, The Record, featured a nine-page spread on this issue. We recognise that refugees pose one of the largest moral issues of our time and we hope that, learning from the past, the Society can help move Australia’s policy and practice in this area towards a better